Representative image Photograph:( AFP )
Pictures of US troops at Islamabad airport had sparked rumours of their long-term presence in Pakistan
Pakistan minister on Tuesday ruled out long term stay of US troops in Pakistan. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that presence of US troops was 'temporary'. He was quoted by PTI who cited Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.
The minister told the Dawn newspaper that the foreigners came to Pakistan after evacuation from Afghanistan and their stay would be for a limited period and have been issued transit visas ranging from 21 to 30 days.
Pictures of US troops at Islamabad airport had sparked rumours of their long-term presence in Pakistan.
He rejected the assertion that Pakistan was set to return to the Musharraf era and chided the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam's chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for his claim that the government was booking hotels for Americans in the federal capital, the report said.
As many as 2,192 individuals had entered Pakistan from the Torkham border while 1,627 had come to Islamabad by air, Ahmad said, adding that a small number of people had come from the Chaman border.
Many people travelled between Pakistan and Afghanistan through the Chaman border on a daily basis. Many Afghans entered Pakistan from this border and returned to their country, he said, adding that it was ?a normal activity?.
Ahmad said the issuance of visas to those coming from Afghanistan was not a money-making exercise and that no target had been set to generate funds through this activity.
He pointed out that a normal visa fee was being charged from these people while visas on arrival were being issued for free of cost. Asked as to what was the status of individuals crossing into Pakistan from Torkham and Chaman borders, he said none of them had been given refugee status.
(With inputs from agencies)